With the plethora of sketchbooks being published by animation artists nowadays, it takes a little extra effort to stand out from the pack. Designer Stephen Silver has managed to do just that with his newly published sketchbook THE ART OF SILVER, a ful-color 160-page hardcover book. I’d enjoyed his first sketchbook from a couple years back, which was printed in a far more humble 32-page b-&-w comic book format, but I hardly expected such an ambitious follow-up. This book redefines what it means for an artist to self-publish a collection of their work, with page after page of handsomely printed sketchbook drawings, illustration work and caricatures drawn in an impressive variety of media including gouache, Prismacolor, brush pen and ink. The lush printing gives the reader the added bonus of being able to see Stephen’s light blue and red pencil roughs under his clean-ups.
Also included is Stephen’s professional work from animated projects he’s designed: CLERKS: THE ANIMATED SERIES, DANNY PHANTOM and CRASH NEBULA. His design work from DISNEY’S KIM POSSIBLE is missing, most likely due to legal reasons, and while it would have been nice to see, the huge variety of art already in the book more than makes up for the absence of those designs.
Like many of the most original and creative animation artists, Stephen is predominantly self-taught. He’s developed his own distinctive way of drawing, in which he places an emphasis on rhythm and flow, combined with a strong sense of personality, which perhaps owes to his artistic training as a theme park caricaturist where the goal is to capture a person’s likeness. Another throwback to his caricature days is his affinity for drawing heads, which he explains is one of his favorite drawing subjects.
Throughout the book, Stephen shares ideas about drawing, such as how he likes to draw multiple characters on a page to see their shape contrasts and his “figure eight” design technique. The greatest insight can be gained though by simply flipping through the pages and studying the impressive range of one artist’s work. The binding of the book indicates that this is Volume 1, and hopefully in the future we’ll be seeing many more volumes of Stephen Silver’s work. THE ART OF SILVER also has a foreword by film director Kevin Smith and a backword by MAD artist Tom Richmond. For ordering info, visit Silvertoons.com.